News you can relate to

Some news stories that caught our eye this week:

  • Cheers filled our offices yesterday when the president signed the Violence Against Women Act. This article is a good summary of why we’re so excited about this.
  • Returning an abducted child to their home country seems like a good thing, right? Often it is. But what happens when the abductor is a parent trying to keep a child safe from an abuser? Research shows that “many abductions are actually flights to safety.”
  • Singer Thao Nguyen shares how she’s been influenced by the women she’s met in California State Prisons “who have lifted and inspired and taught me things I wouldn’t learn with anyone else.”

The Man of the House

We are nowhere.”

He’s right. John Boehner was talking about the fiscal cliff, but he could very well have been speaking in general. Because Congress is nowhere.

Nowhere on Violence Against Women in Indian Country.

Nowhere on disability rights.

Nowhere on leadership that looks like you and me.

But “nowhere?” Really?

With so much at stake, that’s the best we can do?

Native American women cannot wait for Congress to get somewhere.

“Eighty-eight percent of the abuse against Native women is committed by non-Native men—but we, as citizens of the United States, permit this abuse to go unchecked because we do not allow police officers, prosecutors and judges on tribal lands to perform their legal obligations regarding these non-Native men. In other words we, citizens of the United States, have sanctioned ‘open season against Native American women by non-Native men.’ This is simply unconscionable. Each of us has an opportunity, now, to right this wrong.”

People with disabilities and their advocates cannot wait for Congress to get somewhere. Yet we are forced to endure the mind-numbing word catastrophe that are press releases from senate leadership as they try to explain why they did NOT ratify the UN Disability Treaty. ‘Blah blah blah – the American family – blah blah blah – sovereignty – blah – cliff – blah – going over – blah – be very afraid.’ For the love of God – say something. At least ‘I have no experience of or interest in human suffering’ would be honest.


And finally. WHY are we nowhere on the leadership in the House?

Did Congress not learn anything from their insanity, inanity, and insulting ignorance about contraception and rape. IT PISSED US OFF! Representative Boehner – you can’t even find one measly woman to put into leadership??!?   Not even one man of color? Are you quite certain?

I don’t know about you, but I need OUT of nowhere. And  I’m on fire about it.

I’m looking for young women interested in running for public office. Women who want to act to solve problems.

And I’m making it a daily habit to coach, cajole and yes shame if necessary as many of my elected officials as I can. My message? “I need you to reach across whatever aisle you are sitting near to get some serious work done. To do otherwise is unethical and unforgivable.”

They need to hear from each and every one of us. Daily as necessary until they dig themselves out of nowhere. If we don’t have leaders who can do that, it’s just a damned shame. All the way around.

No safety without sovereignty

The debate in Congress is still raging over whether to reauthorize the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA). One of the major points of conflict between the champions of the bipartisan Senate bill and the deeply flawed Republican House version is over the power Indian tribes have to investigate and prosecute domestic violence crimes.

The Senate bill would restore Indian tribes’ ability to prosecute non-Indians who assault their Indian spouses or domestic partners. Dating back to the much-criticized 1978 Supreme Court case Oliphant vs. Suquamish Indian Tribe, only the federal government can prosecute crimes committed by non-Indians on tribal land. The decision was a disaster for tribes’ ability to protect their communities.


The vast majority of violent crimes against Native women are committed by non-Indian men, and current law leaves a gaping hole in accountability for abusers and protections for victims. Tribes do not have the authority to hold these offenders accountable, and the federal government does not have the resources or the will. Federal authorities decline to prosecute 46% of assaults and 67% of sexual abuse cases in Indian country.

Violence against Native women is at epidemic levels, and has been for many years. A new CDC study shows that 46% of American Indian and Alaska Native women have been raped, physically assaulted, or stalked by an intimate partner. In Washington State, Native women are killed by husbands and boyfriends at nearly three times the rate of white women.

Safety for victims of violence and sovereignty for tribes go hand in hand. Some VAWA opponents are using misinformation and scare tactics to try to minimize the extent of violence against Native women and deny tribes the tools to confront it. Tuesday, June 26th will be a National Day of Action to support the real VAWA and its long overdue protections for Native women.  Make sure your representatives know where you stand.

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